Nate Chinen

Director of Editorial Content

Nate Chinen has been writing about jazz for more than 20 years.

He spent a dozen of them working as a critic for The New York Times, and helmed a long-running column for JazzTimes. As Director of Editorial Content at WBGO, Chinen works with the multiplatform program Jazz Night in America and contributes a range of coverage to NPR Music.

He is author of Playing Changes: Jazz For the New Centurypublished in hardcover by Pantheon in 2018, and on paperback by Vintage in 2019. Hailed as one of the Best Books of the Year by NPR, GQ, Billboard, and JazzTimes, it's a chronicle of jazz in our time, and an argument for the music's continuing relevance. It has also been published internationally, in Italian and Spanish editions. 

A thirteen-time winner of the Helen Dance–Robert Palmer Award for Excellence in Writing, presented by the Jazz Journalists Association, Chinen is also coauthor of Myself Among Others: A Life in Music, the 2003 autobiography of festival impresario and producer George Wein, which earned the JJA’s award for Best Book About Jazz.

Chinen was born in Honolulu, to a musical family: his parents were popular nightclub entertainers, and he grew up around the local Musicians Union. He went to college on the east coast and began writing about jazz in 1996, at the Philadelphia City Paper. His byline has also appeared in a range of national music publications, including DownBeat, Blender and Vibe. For several years he was the jazz critic for Weekend America, a radio program syndicated by American Public Media. And from 2003 to 2005 he covered jazz for the Village Voice.

His work appears in Best Music Writing 2011 (Da Capo); Pop When the World Falls Apart: Music in the Shadow of Doubt (Duke University Press, 2012), and Miles Davis: The Complete Illustrated History (Voyageur Press, 2012).

Ways to Connect

Robert Lewis

A few months ago, saxophonist-composer Tim Berne and guitarist-producer David Torn were on the road with their band Sun of Goldfinger when coronavirus restrictions went into effect.


“Our best musicians in the jazz tradition were radical imaginers,” says Samora Pinderhughes.

“Now you has jazz, jazz, jazz, jazz, jazz!”

Priscilla Jiminez

Along with some duo magic from Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch, and a ray of sunshine from Matt Wilson.

Jonathan Chimene / WBGO

Organizers of the Jazz Coalition had a lot of phone calls to make this week.

The industry collective, which formed in response to the hardships of the coronavirus pandemic, spent the last month mobilizing behind its signature initiative: a Commission Fund designed to award $1,000 grants to an array of artists, in support of the creation of new work.

Courtesy of the artist

Lucky Peterson, a keyboardist, guitarist and singer whose blues career kicked off with a novelty hit at age 5, eventually sprawling over dozens of albums and thousands of high-octane gigs, died in Dallas, Tx. on May 17. He was 55.

His death was announced on his Facebook page. Blues guitarist Shawn Kellerman, his longtime friend and band mate, said the cause was a stroke.

Courtesy of the artist

Plus a taste of Michael Olatuja’s new album, featuring Regina Carter.

Richard Conde

To support its COVID-19 Musicians’ Emergency Fund, the Jazz Foundation of America is pulling out all the stops.

Trevor Smith / WBGO

Twenty-three years ago, I went out on my first reporting assignment and ended up in Amiri Baraka’s laundry room.

David Crow / Courtesy of the artist

Also: new music from the Joshua Redman Quartet, Leni Stern, Harold López-Nussa, and Big Heart Machine.

Ambrose Akinmusire was in the eighth grade, a budding trumpeter in Oakland, Calif., when he made his first excursion to a jazz club. Through a radio contest, he'd won tickets to the local mainstay, Yoshi's, unaware of the creative portal he was opening.

Woong Chun Al

Today is Keith Jarrett’s birthday, but he’s the one bearing a gift.

To be more precise, ECM Records has released a new track by the celebrated pianist: a sensitive treatment of “Answer Me, My Love,” recorded at the Béla Bartók National Concert Hall in Budapest, Hungary on July 3, 2016. It’s the first taste of an album scheduled for release sometime in the fall.

Jazz and the visual arts have always enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship. Last year the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis put that bond front and center with an ambitious original program called Portraits of America: A Jazz Story.

David Brisco

Music of renewal, reassurance and reminiscence.

Aaron Jackendoff / SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Richie Cole, an alto saxophonist, bandleader and composer with a steadfast commitment to the hard-driving verities of bebop, died on May 2 at his home in Carnegie, Pa., a suburb of Pittsburgh. He was 72.

In an alternate timeline, I know precisely how I would have spent the evening of April 17. The dynamic South African pianist Nduduzo Makhathini had been booked for an album-release engagement at Dizzy's Club, the in-house nightclub at Jazz at Lincoln Center. I was looking forward to hearing his band in that room — not only because Makhathini's stateside appearances are few and far between, but also because the urgent, questing spirit of his music is something best experienced in person and in close quarters, as a form of communion.

jazz at lincoln center

Bright moments for difficult times, in this week’s Take Five.

Anthony Dean

Bootsie Barnes, a tenor saxophonist and bandleader who set a rigorous standard for hard bop, presiding as a master and mentor in his hometown of Philadelphia, died on Wednesday at Lankenau Medical Center in Wynnewood, Pa. He was 82.

Louis Armstrong House Museum

Michael Cogswell, a jazz archivist and historian who took the lead in turning Louis Armstrong’s modest home into the Louis Armstrong House Museum, a cherished New York institution and a site of pilgrimage, died on Monday. He was 66.

Justin Bettman

Like any artist releasing new music right now, Nir Felder has had to make some adjustments.

Peter Gannushkin / DOWNTOWNMUSIC.NET

Henry Grimes met with a hero’s welcome, his first of many, when he lugged an upright bass onstage at the eighth annual Vision Festival.

Peter Gannushkin /

Giuseppi Logan, a saxophonist, clarinetist and flutist whose esteemed career in free jazz bracketed a mysterious absence of almost 40 years, died on Friday at the Lawrence Nursing Care Center in Far Rockaway, Queens. He was 84.

Courtesy of the artist

Steve Lehman, the acclaimed alto saxophonist, needed a place to play.

For over a month now, he has been operating under conditions familiar to many of us. He and his wife live in a Los Angeles apartment with their two young children, and every day is a negotiation between their home schooling, online lessons with his students at CalArts, cooking and various other tasks.

courtesy of Quinn Emanuel

Steve Edwards, who died on April 8 of complications from COVID-19, has been memorialized for his distinguished law career. He also served on WBGO’s Board of Trustees, bringing the same energy and integrity for which he was known in the legal field.

Ami Sioux

New music that speaks to our moment, with uplift and determination.

Courtesy of the artist

Jymie Merritt, a bassist who anchored some of the leading groups of jazz’s postwar era, like Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, before establishing his own sphere of influence as a composer and theorist in Philadelphia, died on Friday. He was 93.

Richard Teitelbaum, an electronic artist, keyboardist and composer who combined an interest in non-western musical languages with a focus on experimental practice, died on Thursday at HealthAlliance Hospital in Kingston, N.Y. His wife, the classical pianist Hiroko Sakurazawa, said the cause was a major stroke. He was 80.

Eddy Davis, a banjoist and bandleader who enjoyed a sprawling career in traditional jazz, most visibly through a decades-long association with Woody Allen, died on Tuesday at Mount Sinai West hospital in New York City. He was 79.

Conal Fowkes, a pianist who worked closely with Davis, notably as a touring duo, said the cause was complications from the coronavirus.